Have you ever felt like you just weren’t hearing from God? Or that your prayers were words uttered in an empty room and instead of them floating up to heavenly ears they crashed to the floor?
No? ……Just me?
Recently, a dear friend shared with me that she didn’t know ‘how’ to pray. My well thought out and deeply theological response was,
“Just talk to Him.”
Friend: “Yeah, but How? I just don’t get what I’m supposed to do“
I think this is a very common question. I mean, if we’re going to take the time to pray to the God of all Creation we want to do it right! Right? But here’s a truth that should take away some performance anxiety for you-there is no perfect way to pray. Prayer and how it’s done is as unique as the person praying it. That being said, there are a few guidelines I discovered from reading about what men and women of the Bible did. Incorporating these 3 simple ideas that I’m about to share with you helped build my prayer life.
A prayer closet, bathroom, garage, car, pantry, treehouse…..it doesn’t matter where as long as it works for you. When my kids were small Jesus and I hung out in the bathroom a lot! Even if it was only 1 minute 10 times a day and those prayers were just for patience and sanity, God obviously met me there because we all survived the toddler years. Seriously, if you need to go hang out in the laundry room to be with God , I promise He’ll meet you there. When He does, ask Him how to get formula stains out, would you? I was never able to do it so I’m pretty sure it takes divine intervention.
You might think that this belongs in the last suggestion. But getting away and getting quiet are two different things. Sometimes we spend all of our prayer time talking to God and we never pause to listen. It’s easy to want to tell God about everything that’s worrying us, everyone that needs help, every future fear, and every need. Don’t get me wrong- He wants to hear it!There’s nothing too insignificant for us to share with our Father. Phillipians 4:6 says , “Do not worry about anything; instead pray about EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done.” Heck, I’ve prayed for a good parking space before when I had a horribly sprained ankle and I’m quite sure it was no coincidence I got one!
However, equally important, or even more so ,than God hearing us is the importance of US hearing Him. The Holy Spirit is a ‘still small voice’. We need to become comfortable in the silence of prayer. Those times we just close our eyes and ask God ‘what do you need me to hear today, Lord?’ can be some of the most peace bringing and powerful meetings. And again, even if at this time of your life you can only get 2 minutes of quiet- that’s ok! God can speak as fast as He needs to.
3. Get Real
I used to feel so intimidated at church when I’d hear people come out with these Uber spiritual and eloquent prayers. I’d go home and try out their brand of prayer speech and think, ‘who IS this person?!’ . God doesn’t want us to try to sound like anyone else. He’s not looking for poems or your best Billy Graham imitation. He doesn’t care about our grammar or our delivery or our vocabulary. He Knows what you sound like! Don’t worry if you forget what you were going to say mid sentence (this is why I pray out loud. I’m too ADD to stay in my head. It’s busy in there.) Tell Him you’re angry about what’s happening. Tell Him you Do. Not. Appreciate. what ever lesson He’s teaching you and that you’d like Him to find another way thankyouverymuch. Yell at Him if you need to. If you don’t know what to pray- tell Him that. He already knows how you feel in your heart any way so there’s no point in pretending it’s ‘fine’. Wearing a mask of ‘I’m fine’ with God only keeps Him at arms length. Be honest ; be real; be raw. God’s just waiting to turn arm’s length into an embrace.
I hope this helps anyone struggling with their prayer life. If it did , let me know! And if you have something that’s been beneficial to your own prayer life- please share with me!
[Funny side note; when I was writing this and said we don’t have to be poets, this popped into my head. I think my last haiku was in seventh grade. LOL!!]
A Haiku on Prayer
Open wide your heart
Lift your eyes to Heaven
You are the Poem